Internet of Behaviors (IoB) and mediated behaviour of human-controlled vehicles, devices, and systems

September 28, 2022 § Leave a comment

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A recent news tells that Ford is working on an app allowing Ford drivers to receive alerts from near-by pedestrians and bicyclists in order to avoid risky situations and accidents with them. Radars and cameras in cars are in use already, but other technologies e.g.  radio waves  can reveal relevant nearby objects, behaviors and activities. However, knowing that there is a bike or another vehicle somewhere is not very practical or sufficient information although it can serve as an attention grabbing alert. What matters is how the observed object “behaves” or is going to “behave”. That is where reliable behavior knowledge is needed.

Ford does not consider its application as a case of the Internet of behaviors (IoB). However, when such alerting systems become intelligent enough they will be that and can provide data of specific, occurring behaviors of e.g.,  pedestrians, bicyclists, autonomous cars, and people in need for help. At the source, like a pedestrian or a biker, the behavior must be systematically detected, coded, represented and shared for suitable use. The design of IoB systems requires new technologies for this purpose.

Ford is an excellent example of an emerging trend that complements AI- and pattern recognition approaches where the aim is to remotely detect objects and their behaviors. In the IoB the behaving object, device and person provides as much of the relevant behavior information as possible – when, where and how it occurs. No AI-guessing is needed then. This can make the reliability and validity of the behavior data very high.  I have already suggested in my recent book how a “sandwich” model for using behavior data will evolve so that AI and IoB can work together, interactively.  Internet of Behaviors (IoB)  – With a human touch (2022).

Recognising significant behaviors

Most devices (e.g., cars, bicycles, tools, instruments, clothes, etc etc) can be used or accessed without revealing one’s identity. Hence, their ‘behavior’ can be registered, coded and shared without compromising the user’s identity. They mediate user behaviors.

When a driver of a car, for example, receives alerting information, the knowledge of the identity of the person walking or biking is not relevant in general,  but the knowledge of his or her intended or actual behavior is of significant, even critical value. Internet of Behaviors is meant to register, code and share such knowledge.

The knowledge that there is a bike nearby a car does not tell much about the potential risks. However, knowing how the bike “behaves” – making an abrupt turn, about to cross the road, speeding up when near, wobbly ride and many others carry significant information for the driver. However, there is so much potential information in such behaviors that it is necessary to have an intelligent receiver-end which can recognise relevant aspects of the behaviors and perhaps make critical predictions and alert the car drivers, even make automatic interventions to avoid collisions and near-by accidents.

What makes the Ford case especially interesting is that it can be built so that the identity of the person using the app is secondary and not needed at all. This is one of the most controversial topics in the current mobile and internet industry and good examples are desperately needed of use cases where behavior data can be beneficially used, without compromising personal identities. 

The scope of such applications does not concern traffic only but is relevant anywhere where people use tools, systems and vehicles where accidents can occur. Especially in recording near-accident situations the IoB approach can provide important psychological, technical and organizational knowledge for improving the safety in work places and in other risky environments. When the IoB shares the knowledge of a person’s psychological sate – without revealing her identity – such information can have a number of secure uses if the sharing of such data is agreed upon and well secured like in the best of clinical situations.

An IoB app where only the device has the id

A bike can be equipped with an IoB device using IoT, for example,  able to model and code any significant behaviors of the bike – which actually are mediated behaviors of the biker. No such devices exist although wearable devices like health and wellness trackers,  already use suitable technologies for this. Coding of behaviors according to the IoB scheme are still lagging in most behavior contexts of which traffic is one. In the IoT, device identity is a basic element.

In the traffic case, a bike or a car can be equipped with a standard IoB system, which  is specialised in the behaviors of the bike or the car. As an example, the only identity information it uses is that the device is attached to a bike of a certain model and properties which the device knows, can record and code.  The recorded “behavior” of a bike is, of course,  caused by direct biker (physical and mental) behavior, and what becomes observed by the receiver is mediated behavior. 

It is possible to include various versatile and creative features in the bike IoB device which allows the biker to provide and share any possible knowledge what he or she wants to share and why not, receive alerts and other impacts from other sources in the environment and in the traffic. Then of course, the bike is only one simple IoB case example.

Robot identity matters, too

Robots in industrial settings can be dangerous creatures if their movements and other activities cannot be known and accurately predicted, especially when they collaborate with human operators and clients. The identity of a robot is not a self-evident problem but the knowledge of its coming, “intended” behaviour is most valuable for the people and why not other robots interacting with it. 

It is possible to consider “robot personality”, that is, what its behavior style is like. This occurs both in mechanical and symbolic interaction and the famous GPT-3, for example, has already shown the significant role of “robot personality” in communication and story generation. Human personality models can be an inspiring source of creative design here, but specific characteristics must be defined for robots living and working in different environments and action spaces. A coding system can represent relevant robot behaviors as well  and the nature of its identity so that this data about its behavior and style can be shared for various beneficial purposes.

Psychological resilience – individual or system?

September 9, 2022 § Leave a comment

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I came to think about this problem when suffering from an injury in my foot after a karate exercise, kicking a bag, while at the same time, having a laser-operation on my eyes due to post-cataract problems. This forced me to take it easy for some days when moving was painful and slow and eyes needed to recover. It made me think about my own ‘resilience’. These are rather mild problems, but having recovered from more serious injuries and illnesses, it would be easy to think that “Well, I do have resilience.” Indeed, I remember a study, already from 1970’s suggesting that a significant predictor for future success in sports is how well the person recovers from injuries. 

It was my 75th birthday on 8th September and I started memorizing these experiences over the years, and could see several sources to ‘my’ resilience.  It did not take much to realize that they were mostly about various support systems, not about my personality. Had I been born in a wild jungle I would have been a lost case already as a teen-ager with my strong myopia and later when having my knee problems and all the rest of it. There was a system I was almost blind to and as a young guy, I was very shy and unable to ask for any help, I always tried to survive by myself.

I realized that my serious medical history, and some other personal difficult experiences,  could be a good lesson about the nature of resilience and why it is important, how we choose to view resilience as an individual or a systemic phenomenon. Hence this very personal story.

Why does it matter how we view resilience?

Resilience has become a heroic capacity of public figures, individuals, organizations and communities in how they recover from crisis, challenging perturbations and difficult times.  The term has many definitions and often it is described as a systemic phenomenon, but in psychology and popular discourse it typically refers to the ability of an individual: an individual’s ability to adapt in the face of adverse conditions.” (Wikipedia). I believe that it is a common assumption that ‘resilience’ is indeed a personal characteristic most of us would like to possess. 

When we as individuals try to adapt to and conquer over difficult times, it is easy to look inside and try to find our personal resources to suit such demanding situations. Often when we feel helpless or unable to ‘solve the disturbing problem’ this causes bad feelings and suffering. However, there is a risk to ignore the environmental and other systemic factors within which we live. For an individual, it is, of course, possible to isolate herself, at least in some relative sense and to consider resilience as a pure psychological characteristic and then try to act accordingly. Methods for this are many from sports to meditation and self-help instruction books and programs.

Some early sources of resilience in Finland

I was born in a society that took good care of its babies and children. Well-baby clinics were introduced in 1920s by Arvo Ylppö, our visionary, human and almost mystic pediatrist. By the year 1949, two years after I was born, the law was implemented which made it obligatory to have these clinics in every municipality in Finland. A network of baby and parenting care and support was born in Finland. In addition to my parents, this was the most influential source of health and even psychological resilience to my life, of which I had, naturally, no idea.

Education is practically free and any level of education is available for every Finn. That made it possible that I became the first academic in my family. A support network of education was spun for me as for every Finnish kid. There are many other similar support networks in Finland. 

The blessings of a failing support network

I became a sports enthusiast and as it often happens, it led to great times and also a number of sports injuries. One special case is an example where the health support network failed. At 16, I was rather talented sprinter and long-jumper (11,8 100m and 640 cm long jump, unofficial results). Then I hurt my ankle at a training camp and had to go to hospital for it. The diagnosis was that it’s only a minor ligament injury. But it did not heal. Perhaps the x-rays were not that good then and after one or two months the doctor discovered that a small piece of bone had been detached. The recovery took so long that I knew I will miss the following season where I had hoped to participate in Finnish championships for the 17 year-olds. It took some time to run and jump again but it was too long a break and I finished this career and moved to weight lifting, judo and later karate.

Looking back now, although it is possible to think that the system failed me, I now feel that it was the best that could have happen to me. These other sports, weight lifting and karate became life-long passions which I still continue in some form. In other words, I moved from one system to another.

One could think that I had personal resilience just because I was able to move to these other interesting sports so easily. But it was no accident: I had good friends in weight lifting and it was only a matter of some social adjustments and practices. I had already trained with these friends since I joined the club HAK when I was 13; it was the oldest club in Finland. In other words, I had a social (small) network that invited, guided and supported me in my next steps and it did not take long to make these sports an essential part of my life. Of course, we never considered this as a support network, it was just fun and great time. One of my friends, Juhani Avellan became a world-class weight lifter, competing at Olympics, making world records. At the same time, I was a member in a small team that then founded the first karate club in Finland in late 1960s. Alone, I could not have started any of these activities.

So, what would resilience mean in these situations? I believe that it is the ability to benefit from the sources of resilience that are there, but which must be recognized and then rely on them, to be sensitive to their call. This is a complex social-psychological and even cultural process, but has a major impact on what we can see as ‘individual resilience’. In other words, resilience requires perceptive and participatory skills. It is a good question how we learn them but I will skip it here.

Communication and interaction in reaching for the sources of resilience

Later in weight lifting I hurt my shoulder and went to surgery that took care of it. It was not too expensive and I could continue my training. This time, the health support network worked.

Then a couple of years later, I hurt my both knees and had to go through three surgeries. Again, it took some time to recover and to continue karate and with weight lifting.  After some exercises my right knee started bothering me so badly that I could not even take the first step on stairs and then once visiting an osteopath for massage, who had budo background as well, I mentioned the problem. He gave me an unexpected exercise (I could not have found it by myself) I could do to improve the muscular support of the knee. I took it seriously and trained it at the gym every time, for 2-3 years. Still today, the knee is fine.

In this case, the source of ‘my’ resilience was my readiness to communicate with a trusted, helpful and knowledgeable person. I did not directly ask him for help, but indirectly, with the way of communication, I did that.

Invisible good as a source of resilience

I was 60 when I got the diagnosis of melanoma. It was a major shock and impossible to know if I could survive it. Again, the health care system worked for me when I first went to a ‘wrong health care center‘, where I did not have my university support,  but the doctor there said “Let’s forget the bureaucracy, I will examine you now!” He sent me to an immediate biopsy and the diagnosis was clear. Surgery a week after that but then on the way, out of the blue, in a meeting of the central hospital in Helsinki, a surgeon, unknown to me, had seen my case and said she would like to examine me and do some further necessary surgery to make sure the cancer had not spread among my lymph nodes. She became my beacon of health and hope, for ten years. It is possible that she gave me this time. What a wonderful professional and person.

In this case, I had no role whatsoever, unless my way of communicating with the medical personnel on the way had somehow led to this willingness to take care of me. That I cannot know. It remains an invisible source of ‘my’ resilience.

In July 2017, while spending relaxing time at our distant cottage on an island I suffered a stroke in my right carotid artery with mild apraxic and paralysis symptoms in my left arm and hand. It was in eastern Finland, some 30 kilometers from the hospital in Mikkeli, where the young doctor receiving me at the emergency clinic happened to be specializing in neurology. In addition, I had a history as clinical neuropsychologist with extensive patient work, and I could tell him what exactly my symptoms were. This started a fluent, interactive care process and at the end of it I was transported 300 km to Helsinki and my carotid was operated by a wonderful, skilled vascular surgeon. 

I’m convinced that it was a coincidence how I was received but at the same time it became evident that my own professional background had a major impact on the nature of the process according to which I was then treated. Herethe source of resilience was partly in my own history – the value of which I could not have known in advance.

Distant sources of resilience

It feels quite awkward but fair to say, and it can be documented, that I spent much of my academic life in a very hostile environment at the department of psychology in Helsinki. It took quite a lot of energy to try to stay balanced and provide a healthy environment for my team and students who had to take the same burden, with less weight, of course, but it was an unfair treatment of these young, kind and talented people. No less burden was this atmosphere to me when I was a young researcher.

I have been blessed to have some groups of friends for some decades, who have continuously shown their will and intentions to behave in ethical and healthy way in whatever they work with. Most of them are not from the academia. These topics have often occurred in our discussions and in wonderful spontaneous speeches at any possible celebration we have had. Many of these views became an existence proof for me: when I tried to live my work life in a heathy and ethical way, in the middle of various conflicts, I knew for certain that I’m not alone with this, I have these friends on the same, although somewhat distant journey.  Needless to say, this does not mean that I or anyone else can always succeed in this, at home or work, but the knowledge of these good motivations, their existence, became a long-lasting source of mental power for me.  It has not diminished.

I remember well an episode, where a professor X came to me after a faculty meeting. A colleague from my department had sent about 50 letters to faculty professors accusing me in a hostile style of having too much power and some other stuff, and as the Dean I led the discussion. He and perhaps some other colleagues, wanted to kick me out from this position. After the meeting where we discussed the text of the letter, this professor X came to me, saying something like “How can you remain so calm in front of these hostile and crazy accusations?” Of course, I did not feel ‘cool’ at all, but I had my existence proof that supported me, when trying to do my best in this. It was an unexpected social source of resilience.

Observational architecture as a guide

In complex, but also in many simple-appearing situations we have ways to frame or interpret the situation. A critical step in this process is the activation or tuning of our observational architecture, which includes all the sources of perceptual information we focus on or have consciously available. Typically, this happens automatically and we have learned ways to quickly frame any possible situation we face in life. 

Again, a personal example: promenading in Montpellier, France, last summer, a young, slightly suspicious-appearing guy approached my wife, and asked her about the time. I got reserved and came close to them and followed sharply his movements. Then he got uncertain, perhaps noticing my stance and he left. All good? Not at all. Only later I realized that I had focused only on him and not around us to see if the aim of the guy was to distract us so that his companion could take what we would not be guarding. Magicians use this human tendency to focus on specific objects while they do their tricks.  My observational architecture in this very simple situation was seriously biased. Next time I will know, unless an automatic reaction takes over, again. Many forces guide the formation of this architecture: habits, situational expectations, probabilities, own history, social pressures and some others. A biased architecture means missing critical information.

When suffering from a mental or physical burden, it is a demanding task to span an optimal observational architecture that includes the best available sources of information that we could use in trying to recover or survive the situation. We can be blind to the potential sources of resilience.

To summarize, the sources of my personal resilience I have enjoyed have been e.g., the following:

A network of care and support

A support network of education

Failing support network as a new guide

Resilience through communication and interaction

Invisible but tangible sources of resilience

Distant social sources of resilience

Observational architecture as a guide to resilience

What about crisis and war?

We have become painfully aware that our neighbor is the aggressive Russia. It is necessary to consider the possibility that we will be its object of aggression in some form within the next years. We cannot know this but we must be prepared. For a citizen of a well-fare society like Finland, reactions to aggressions, destruction, manipulation, and deaths are difficult to predict. If something like that happens here individual resilience becomes a critical survival and resistance factor. The management of Covid revealed something of this but also a lot of problems and conflicts arouse. Traditional subjective rights, privileges, and practices don’t change easily and there seemed to be lack of knowledge in the governmental bodies on what makes human behavior change.

When a disaster happens fast like it did in Ukraine, the sources of individual resilience are not self-evident at all and even public knowledge of them is not sufficient. The above list of resilience sourcing may serve as a simplified or inspirational example according to which individuals and families can find help and support at the moment of crisis. Material challenges are an entity of its own, and I have skipped them here as I have not taken up the crucial role of exercise.

Hence, in the spirit of the list above, we should ask (and answer to), for example, the following, abstract but inspirational questions to be prepared at the moment of crisis: 

What relevant public, private and social networks of care and support we have?

What are the sources of critical, trustworthy and situational knowledge?

How to move forward when one support network fails?

What kind of communication and where it is needed to build a connection with new resilience sources?

How we activate the observational architecture according which we live and how to change it?

Why is it important to consider the channels to resilience?

If we assume that psychological resilience is purely a personal skill, characteristic or even a personality trait we may fail to see significant sources and potential of individual resilience. It is indeed a wicked type of a problem as my cases show, since it is not always possible to find a direct route to the needed sources of resilience. Of course, we can ask, what kind of mental, physical and spiritual exercises could help us to become better aware of these valuable sources and which mental powers in our own command we have that could support our resilinece.  

In a recent article in the Guardian, by Sanah Ahsan on mental health, these same problems surface although the resilience aspect has not been explicitly considered: 

“The most effective therapy would be transforming the oppressive aspects of society causing our pain. We all need to take whatever support is available to help us survive another day.”

The key question is, how to find this help.

Some important characteristics of ’individual resilience’

As the examples above show and suggest, the sources of resilience are distributed in a wicked way in our social, personal, cultural and physical environments. Hence, it is not easy to locate them and approach them in beneficial way. It is conceivable that already as children we should learns ways to understand this and find personal strategies in seeking for healthy support and help in any life situation. This is where personal characteristics come to play: we are different in our ways to react to social situations and styles and ways to interpret our environment and people and in approaching others. We need to find our own ways and it is a life-long journey and most enchanting one, indeed.

Resilience emerges slowly. Only in very basic things like adaptation to some new simple practices and environments it can happen in minutes, hours or days. The time constant of recovery due to resilience increases in proportion to the complexity of the personal problem. As an example, my ‘measured’ physical recovery from melanoma – according to the medical examinations – took perhaps five years. However, its psychological effects have not left me. Now I have the burden of the carotid stroke which occurred in 2017 – I will probably live and die with it, but it’s ok, the sources of this adaptation come from a specific form of good and colorful life.

Sometimes it is necessary to recover fast, like for example from a disturbing personal frustration or some other negative reaction. Then it is good to have mental exercises, personal communication, even therapy that guides the survival process and helps to find proper routes to the sources of resilience, from the outside or within.

When we become aware of the systemic sources of resilience it can evoke well-directed feelings of gratitude, which again is a source of energy and motivation. If we don’t see these system impacts and think that we have made it all alone, this is difficult if not impossible and isolates us further from any sources of resilience.

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